Professor Muenzer wins Chancellor's grant for the Goethe-Lexicon of Philosophical Concepts

Professor Muenzer wins Chancellor’s grant for the Goethe-Lexicon of Philosophical Concepts, an open-access research tool created by an international team of experts. Co-sponsored by The North American and English Goethe Societies, its home will be at the University of Pittsburgh. 

The Goethe-Lexicon of Philosophical Concepts is a collaborative research initiative investigating the central role played by concepts and their re-invention in Goethe’s development as a philosopher. Guided by the writer’s estimation of his own approach to philosophical problems as “heterodox,” the project’s international team of cross-disciplinary collaborators will identify, collect, and explicate a wide range of philosophical concepts that, when taken together, allowed Goethe to reformulate central questions of traditional metaphysics within the practices of literature, science, aesthetics, and cultural history. Drawing on digital technologies, the lexicon will position users to connect Goethe to an exemplary line of predecessors and successors in philosophical conceptualization. It will also facilitate “reading” and systematically organizing the vast Goethe-database, thereby putting the each of the writer’s discrete disciplinary practices into a virtual dialog with all the others on the basis of shared philosophical investments.

By publishing the lexicon in English and online as an open-access research tool with a cross-disciplinary focus, the project will be fulfilling several important goals. Firstly, it will make Goethe available beyond the German-speaking world to a global readership. Secondly, it will serve as a resource for scholars outside the disciplinary confines of German Studies to connect their work to a thinker who has remained largely unacknowledged for his philosophical achievements until recently. Thirdly, the lexicon’s digital platform will allow users to re-organize the sequence of entries with the stroke of a key and so empower them to experience the basic building blocks of Goethean thought across a dynamic network of contextual fields. The term Geist (spirit), for example, will be searchable within individual literary works or genres, and these, in turn, will be linked to Goethe’s scientific or aesthetic works, as well as to works in metaphysics from ancient Greek philosophy through 20th and 21st century revisionists like Whitehead and Deleuze. Lastly, the lexicon’s online format will enable a production and distribution process that is flexible and interactive. Each year of work will produce 25 new entries that will be immediately available and integrated into the work of previous years. And users will be equipped to respond to the entries with suggestions for emendation in an interactive process of revision.

Both the Goethe Society of North America and the English Goethe Society are serving as sponsors of the
project, which is generously funded over the next two years by a seed-funding grant from the University of Pittsburgh, its institutional home. The First Annual Workshop is scheduled for May 2019 at Pitt.
The second Annual Workshop will be held in London in May, 2020.